New device at Krannert Center to help those with hearing loss

A new audio system is taking center stage at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. (WCCU)

A new audio system is taking center stage at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.

The center implemented a new assisted listening system for those with hearing loss, making a huge difference for attendees.

It directly connects them to the stage through headphones or hearing aids, so their experience is just like everyone else's.

“It's the difference between enjoying a night out and not wanting to go out," said Amanda Lawrence, a Clinical Assistant Professor in Audiology at the University of Illinois.

For those with hearing loss, seeing a performance can be frustrating.

“It's not very enjoyable to watch something if you don't actually know what's being said,” Lawrence said.

But this new device at the Krannert Center is helping change that, using a FM radio signal.

The audio is picked up by a microphone in the ceiling and then transmitted to the person's ear.

“It fills the space with the signal and even reaches a little bit outside of the venue so that patrons can already hear the event happening before they even enter the door," said Rick Scholwin, audio director at the center.

He said the new system took a team effort from the whole audio department, with everyone wanting to make the experience as enjoyable as possible.

“We cannot exist without the community,” said Scholwin. “Every member of the community needs to walk out of here with big smiles and glowing."

Lawrence said one of her patients is a frequent attendee, saying, “For her, it was huge. I mean it was really huge."

And it’s something that can make a difference for even more.

“It’s the understanding of what it really brings to someone's life to be able to hear,” Lawrence said. “To be able to interact. To be able to get the punch line."

Attendees don't have to use the headphones provided. They can bring their own as long as it plugs into the device. There are about 60 of them available.

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